This book begins in a very dramatic fashion with Alice attempting suicide, and the reader is then led through Alice’s life to discover what has led up to this decision. I found the book (as described on the sleeve) un-put-down-able and couldn’t stop reading it. The tension is built up beautifully as Alice is a likeable character and seems so happy and I found myself envying her, and yet it is obvious that something devastating and terrible has happened to her to make her want to kill herself, and as a reader I found myself racing through the book to find out what this event was.

I did love the description of John and Alice’s relationship; how lovely it all is in the beginning, how romantic, how delighted they are with one another, how perfect it all is. I couldn’t imagine either one of them changing their feelings for each other. It was very romantic and lovely to read.

I found this quite a confusing book to read, however, as one chapter speaks in the third person talking about what Alice is doing, the next chapter speaks in the first person talking about “I” for Alice, and then another chapter will be from her mum’s life (Ann) or Grandma Elspeth. The book also seems to jump around in time from Alice at present day, to her university life, to being a child at home, to working for the Literature Trust and meeting John, therefore when each chapter begins it isn’t immediately apparent which time period the story is being told from and I found this quite disjointed and frustrating to read, but I did wonder if it was a clever way of representing how Alice’s thoughts were jumping around when she was in a coma (but then I would have thought every sentence would have been phrased “I”, plus Alice wouldn’t have been able to describe mum’s and grandma’s activities). I can appreciate that the jumping around from narrator to narrator does contribute to the building of tension and it was useful to see things from different characters’ perspectives, however when the devastating event was finally revealed I found I had to go back to the beginning of the book to re-read all of Alice’s accounts as at the first reading I’d been too confused to take all the detail in.

I had thought this was going to be just a chick-lit book, but it is so much more than that; it is a gripping book and a very touching one and I did enjoy it (but I found the writing style a little annoying and off-putting).

After You'd Gone (Paperback)

By (author): Maggie O'Farrell

After You'd Gone
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